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Setting goals for the New Year

Ahh goal setting... something that we as physical therapists are obsessed with and something that tends to be brought to the forefront of people's minds for New Year's. It's no kept secret that the majority of goals set to begin January 1st fail. Gym memberships go unused, old habits resurface, and things seem to go back to the ways we were hoping to ditch.

Here is my challenge to you for this next round of goal setting: instead of only looking at the thing you want to change, look at the "why" peaking behind it. It starts with gratitude towards the "why".

For example, say your goal is you want to exercise more during the week. Why? To be healthier. Now add gratitude. "I am grateful for what my body is capable of doing and I know that if I take care of my body, I can better take care of my mind, my spirit, and my community." Boom! Now who can ignore an exercise goal when there is this gratitude and "why" behind it?! The notion that taking care of yourself is not only for you but also for the greater good of your environment is incredibly powerful.

What tends to lead to failure of achieving goals is a "why" without gratitude. An example of this would be, "I want to exercise more during the week to look skinnier". This kind of "why" has no gratitude behind it and actually has an undertone of rejecting the current body. These emotions of rejection, denial, and distain only lead to more of the same if the goal doesn't go exactly as hoped. I have witnessed this often in my clinic when acceptance by the patient seems far from reach so they continue butting heads with themselves internally and stand in their own way. They meet their current state with frustration. The folks that tend to accept, forgive, and meet their body with compassion progress the best. Hands down.

Fueled by your "why" and gratitude, you are unstoppable. With awareness of your intention, you can live by your "why" with every action. The greatest inner peace is found when your actions are aligned with your intentions. Ask yourself, "Is what I'm choosing in this moment bringing me closer or further away from my 'why'?" And yes, some days choosing rest IS the better choice in that moment.

Research has shown that the more gratitude in one's life, the more content they are with their circumstances. Start by writing a few things you are grateful for in a journal each day for 30 days. See what unfolds for you. Then, set your goals. Chores may start feeling like gifts. Happy New Year.

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